Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

Temper Tantrums

If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen- don’t just make the kitchen “invitation only”.

As a blogger, you open yourself up to encouragement and praise, but you also make yourself a target for criticism and critique. I write each and every post with the nagging mindset that anyone can read this. So far, my readers have been wonderfully encouraging but I know that I may have critics at some point.

Thus, I’m careful not to write anything that I am annoyingly passionate about, and nothing deeply personal. That’s just setting yourself up to feel hurt and abused.

I follow about 50+  blogs; some are corporately minded, some are photo blogs, and some are a mere whisper away from a tell-all private diary. In one of those diary blogs, this young person spilled their guts (yet again) about their “newfound” purpose in life. By doing so, they completely put down their current vocation in a harsh and hurtful manner. It was completely unprofessional.

In the comments, one of the blogger’s readers called them out on the hurtfulness and immaturity of their post. This commenter was firm, but very kind in their rebuke. They said only what needed to be said and nothing more. They ended by telling the blogger that they loved them.

Before the end of the week, this blog became “invitation only”. Hmmmm.

Coincidence? I think not.

I understand that criticism hurts. I get that when you are flush in your newfound “calling in life”, then the last thing you want is for someone to pull you up short. But, listen to your readers. This commenter is a personal friend of the blogger; they’ve known each other for some time. If your friends are telling you that you’re not living up to your goal in life, then maybe that should be a wakeup call to take a step back and assess where you are. It’s not a call to get defensive and block all but a choice few readers.

So like I said before- if you can’t stand the heat, stop blogging now. You’ll only save yourself a world of hurt and pain. The world isn’t going to get kinder. People aren’t going to become more tolerant of your dreamy-eyed ideals. It’s happened once, it can happen again. It’s time to face the music, accept the comment, and move on.

Ironically, this blew up into a bigger deal than it had to be. To gracefully acknowledge the comment and move on with the blog would have been the mature decision; in a few days, the whole situation would have blown over. Instead, every time I see a link to the now-private blog, that situation comes leaping to mind. It was a bad call, if I’m being honest.

It’s never healthy to surround yourself with “yes” people. We all know the type: any question you ask them, they tell you what you want to hear. “Does this chartreuse and grey zig-zag striped dress suit me?” “Yes!” “Did you enjoy my apricot and tomato risotto?” “Yes!” “Should I quit school to join the circus?” “Yes!

See? It’s just not healthy.

So, there are a few lessons to be learned:

  1. Accept constructive criticism. Not that I think you should change everything about yourself because one person thinks you should; use common sense. However, most of us could do with a bit of improvement, so be open.
  2. Don’t post deeply personal thoughts online. No matter how much you may want to share your epiphany, don’t just spew out your latest thoughts. You are much more likely to react emotionally to a negative comment.
  3. Just be smart. Don’t be the kind of person where “no thought goes unpublished.” Wait, think, then act.

That’s all.

Comments? Compliments? Criticisms? Leave them on the link to the left!

Wee bit of housekeeping here. Sorry for the third blog design in a month; I promise that this one will stick around for a while. I’ve been waiting almost a year for a design like this: readable, light, and girly without being “too much.”

A few things moved around, but it should be straightforward. Don’t forget; if you want a nice little email when I post, just put it under “Be In the Know” and hit submit (look up and right!). I’ll make sure that you are kept in the loop!

–MissW

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This Is How I Feel

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been on a website periodically doing research for a post. All well and good, but this particular site happens to be a social/threaded site. Clarification: a social website with opinionated and seriously uncaffeinated (or over-caffeinated) people.

My blood pressure steadily rises the longer I’m on there.

I’m trying to not visit there much now; I’ve pretty much gleaned everything I could ever want to know (and then some). However, I wanted to share this comic with you, dear readers, since it sums up how I’ve felt these past weeks.

See what I suffer for this blog? ;) I only hope the the post is worth it. I’ll have it up in a few weeks!

Many thanks to the incomparable xkcd for summing up my feelings!

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Breaking News!

Starbucks to offer free, unlimited wifi starting in July! Apparently, those silly people don’t read my blog at all. Let’s review why this is a bad, bad, horrible idea:

1. Starbucks card sales will drop. Let’s face it, the real perk is the free wifi. No one really cares about syrup and milk. Birthday drinks/free drinks, yes, but wifi is the big draw.

2. Many much people sitting in the cafe without buying anything. Ummmm, dearest Corporate, our stores are small. We have 9 tables, total. Free loading laptop users like a table per laptop. We have lots of regulars. Where are they supposed to sit??????

3. Quality. It’s just not gonna stay good. Which is the pits, because I was hoping to break free of my room senior year and get to Starbucks to study. That’s not going to happen if I can’t rely on the wifi signal. Bummer.

4. Speaking of college; how ’bout those poor college students? Think they will buy a drink before homesteading all day by the laptop? Nope, not a chance.

5. Forget about being the “third place”, an “extension of your living room.” We will rename our cafe “Where business people come to hold meetings where they take up tables for hours without buying anything talk loudly and leave trash everywhere because they don’t have a proper office.” I think it’s catchy, don’t you?

Okay, readers, open forum. Thoughts, input, good or bad. Can you convince me that this is good for the company? Have at it!

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“Free Wifi”

Scene: Starbucks

Time: Inconvenient

Characters: Barista (me), Random Person, Laptop, Starbucks Card

Setting: Cafe is fullish, there are several customers waiting for their drinks.

RP: *walks into the store with laptop bag. Finds a table, drags three chairs into the “perfect position”, sits down. Pulls out laptop. Does not make purchase. Turns on laptop. Does not make purchase. Opens web browser. Does not make purchase. Attempts to load a webpage. Does not make purchase. Fails to load a webpage. Does not make purchase. Attempts once more to load a webpage. Does not make purchase. Discovers AT&T login screen. Does not make purchase. Tries to log-in and fails. Does not make purchase. Approaches register. Does not make purchase.*

Barista: Hi there, can we help you today?

RP: Yeah, what’s the deal with your wifi? Do I, like, need a code or something?

Barista: It’s actually kept a paid service here. You can purchase a pass from AT&T using a credit card, or you can load a Starbucks card with $5, register it in-store (this takes only 2 minutes), and get 2 free hours of wifi a day.

RP: So it’s not free?

Barista: Technically no, but if you do the Starbucks card option, that money is still yours to spend here at the store so you aren’t actually paying for the wifi. It’s like getting it for free, plus getting the other Starbucks card reward benefits.

RP: *Returns to table, slams laptop closed, walks out. Does not make purchase.*

***End Scene***

I’m not exaggerating (much) when I say that this scene plays out in our cafe at least twice a shift- sometimes more often. There is a massive outcry from customers for Starbucks to provide free wifi, but I think it’s a bad idea. Here are a few reasons why I think Starbucks should never go to limitless, free wifi:

1. It’s a marketing gimmick to get people to stay longer at your store. Starbucks already has a solid base of homesteaders; we don’t need anymore people setting up camp. When we have a cafe full of free-loading computer geeks, then our regulars don’t have anywhere to sit. Let’s face it; we *heart* our regulars.

2. It’s expensive to pay for high-quality, limitless wifi. Should this happen, quality is going to drop and people will be complaining about that instead of price. At least now you have little chance of being kick off the network.

3. We will lose a LOT of business should we go to free wifi. People won’t ever feel like making a purchase, and they will keep our paying regulars from having a “third place” environment.

There you have it, my thoughts on free, limitless wifi. What are yours; good, bad, helpful, harmful? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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Droid Wars

My mum and I have the same cell phone- the HTC Hero. I, being the tech geek, set mine up in the store much to the amazement of the salespeople. (Who, by the way, have never seen anyone type as fast as I on an onscreen keyboard. I don’t know whether to be flattered or chagrined.) Mum is now being dragged reluctantly by me into the 21st century.

We had fun. I thought I’d make you all jealous and do a little live blogging of the highlights. :)

9:00– M: Let’s go to Dairy Queen instead. E: No, we need to do this now.

*Unfortunately Mum hasn’t used iTunes in a while, so it had to update. This took fffoooorrreeeeevvveeeeerrrr.*

9:15– *update finished* M: Okay, let’s find some Chad and Jeremy. E: *looks up icanhascheezburger.com*

9:30– E: Okay, the most difficult thing we have to do is set up your Google account for the Android Market. M: Okay!

9:33– M: It needs my first name. What should I put? E: Whatever name you want. M: Okay, we’re going with A— (her name begins with K). E: Sounds great.

9:35– M: Now it wants a last name. What last name should I use? E: Whatever you want. M: How about Gugenheim? E: … M: Guteman? E: …what about *insert our real last name here* M: Oh! That’ll work too!

9:48– M: Why do I even need a Google account anyway? E: *holds up the back of the phone that reads “with Google.” M: Oh, that would be why.

10:00– *We’ve finally gone through the 500 steps to set up a Google account, downloaded a word game, and Ringdroid. We’ve decided on what song to use as her default ring. We even set up her default ringtone. So far, so good. Then, we decided to personalize the ringtone for when I call.*

10:05– M: Okay, Cuppa Joe, Since I Quit Drinking Coffee, or Java Jive. E: You pick. M: But what song to you want to be identified with? E: I think you should pick.

*We play all three songs multiple times through with multiple artists trying to find the right one. We finally land on “Cuppa Joe.”*

10:54– M: Cuppa joe….cuppa joe….no, cuppa joe- right here. *points to a picture of a cup of coffee on her laptop wallpaper*

10:56– M: I have a missed call. E: That was me from the test call earlier.

10:58– M: Do we have any Peeps? I want to make some sh’mos since we can’t go to Dairy Queen. Don’t blog that. E: :)

11:07– M: The song is still playing, how do I make it stop? E: A mallet.

11:10– M: You just talk into your phone and it does stuff for you! *imitates me from the other day* “Melting Pot…oh look, how cool* *notices my expression* M: Oh…

11:26– Success! Mum edited the song on her own, I called her, and it worked!

11:35– *listening to Michael Bolton singing Nessun Dorma* M: What is wrong with Nicolette Sheridon? How do you not love this?

11:38– E: Okay, connect your phone to the computer. M: It says it is. E: It isn’t really. M: Wait, my phone is lying to me! I can’t have a relationship with anything that lies to me. E: *facepalm*

11:40– M: I’m clicking music, I’m double clic…uh-oh. E: *facepalm* M: Honey, don’t die.

11:42– M: Hey, it takes me a long time, but once I’ve got it, I’ve got it.

11:43– M: You’re being snarky…sarcastic…snarkastic. Oh, I made a word- that’s good! Don’t bother with spellcheck…don’t blog this!

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Twelve Hours and Counting….

Due to a death in my Starbucks family, I offered quite willingly to pick up a shift so that my coworker could have the weekend off to process and recover. Remember, I said quite willingly.

However, a few red flags should fly up right about now. Firstly, it was a Saturday shift. Secondly, I was closing that night for five hours. Thirdly, it was a seven hour shift. Fourthly, it was an opening shift. Wait, what???

Yes, I said opening shift. Never let it be said that I don’t *heart* my coworkers.

Anyway, I really was quite willing to do it, and help things move along. Remember, willingly. Just so we’re clear.

So now, here’s what my fun little day looked like!

3am– Dozed off for a little bit of sleep in preparation for the day.

3:30– Already back up and getting ready for work.

4– Grabbed my two Starbucks doubleshots that I bought the previous day. Downed the four shots while eating and sandwich and talking to Dad (he couldn’t sleep either).

5– Pre-opening at the store. Unfortunately, the new manager moved everything around the day before, so shift and I can’t find half the things we need. Two sets of customers drive up at 5:02 and 5:04- sorry folks; too early!

5:30– Open for business! Kinda quiet.

6– Did I say quiet? I meant that we have customers in the store, but few enough that I can handle them on my own in between doing prep work. Lots of iced coffee and Americanos.

7:30– Manager comes on as our third person for the morning. Of course, we get SLAMMED!!!!!!

8– Slammed and barring.

8:30– Still slammed to the door, still on bar

9– Slammed to the door, still on bar.

9:30– Slammed to the door, still on bar.

10– Slammed to the door, still on bar.

10:30– Slammed to the door, still on bar.

11– Slammed to the door, still on bar! However, coworker comes on early to help out.

11:30– LUNCH BREAK!!!!!!! No barring for 30 minutes!!!!!!!

12– Back on floor; grab my till before anyone can throw me back on bar.

12:30– Supposed to clock off; instead get caught ringing, fixing the pastry case, and catching up on dishes.

1pm– First shift down!

2– Home to rest my feet for a bit.

3– Went to the phone store to get my new phone in preparation of my busy week.

4– Came home to show my new phone off to Mum.

5– Left for work to meet up with a regular customer. We talked books for a bit.

5:30– Clocked on for round two!

6– Back on bar, but really rocking. Able to handle drinks and ringing on my own without breaking a sweat. Yay for practice!

6:30– Solely barring at this point; also running into the back to wash dishes and help out the precloser.

7pm– Hit the wall. Staring off into the distance….

7:30– If I have to make one more something-chip-frappuccino I might scream!!!!!

8– Took a ten, had a croissant. That helped a bit. No longer want to kill customers for merely walking in the door.

8:30– Still barring. Not thrilled to still be steaming milk, but coping much better now.

9– Sent the precloser home due to slowish business. Did lots of dishes.

9:30– Barred some more. Did lots of dishes.

10– Closed for business! Did lots of dishes and ran around with the shift like a chicken with its head cut off.

10:30– OFF!!!!! Clocked off on time too. We rock!

11– Home to rest a bit and chat with Mum and Dad.

12– To sleep, at last!

So there you have it- my very exciting day! I’m so glad that I have Sundays off; I don’t think that I could have gone back into work.

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The People You Meet At Starbucks- 2

Remember a while ago I started this series on stereotypical customers? Well, here’s part two! This week on Miss Woodhouse’s Musings, we will take a look at the behaviour patterns of the typical, new small-business owner:

Busy, busy, busy. At least, that’s what they’d like you to think about them. They spend the entire time in line and waiting for their drink busily talking on the phone (I’ll out them here: it’s usually to an old college buddy!). Then, they spend hours hunched over a laptop, clicking away with abandon (playing war games- I kid you not). At some point in their visit, an unsuspecting guest standing at the handoff plane will fall victim to their “oops, I dropped my business card, but why don’t you hang onto it and call me if you need my expertise” routine. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this move come into play!

Common drinks ordered by this type of customer: basic nonfat latte or a plain, small coffee. They are new to business, after all, without much disposable income. The store is their office, our tables are their desk, our customers their target audience. Heating, electricity, wifi, furniture, and advertisement- all for the price of a coffee. It’s a great deal!

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I *Heart*…

Not to be a buzz-kill, but Valentine’s Day tops the list of holidays I despise. I’m sure that it’s fine for some people, but the over-sentimentality of the day really grates on my nerves. I do enjoy having a nice evening with my family (dinner, movie, games, etc.), and that is really the highlight of the holiday. If it wasn’t for them, I’d just as soon ignore the day.

The best Valentine’s Day I’ve had so far in my life was when I worked for a florist. 600 roses in one day, and I handled most of them! It’s the most heavenly scent in the world, all those roses and tulips and lilies blending together in the air. I also went out on deliveries. There’s little I enjoy more than knocking on a door, and handing an unsuspecting woman a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Because we write a lot of the cards, I usually know some of the back story to who the couple is and how long they’ve been together. It’s even more fun when we get to deliver to people at work- the shock and awe just makes me smile.

Despite not liking Valentine’s Day as a rule, I cannot let the holiday pass by without a little nod to the nature of the day. Therefore, here is a partial list of people I love!

I *heart*:

My family

My friends

My coworkers

My English teachers

My Religion teachers

My book club friends

My favourite customers

My puppy

I also have an unusual attachment to some…erm…inanimate objects that I CANNOT live without (and yes, I know that I am shallow). Such objects as:

My COFFEE!

My 700+ books (yup, you read that correctly)

My laptop

My iPod

My cell phone

My camera

My keys (yes, I do mean my keys)

My caffeine gum

My contacts/glasses

So, there you have it! I think that I have plenty of love to spread around. Before I forget, there’s one other group of people I love:

I *HEART* YOU– MY BLOG READERS! Thanks for reading. <3

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Powerless

At precisely 1:54 this morning, my entire neighbourhood lost power. Those of you readers who know me well will gasp in shock, as you realize that this is right in the middle of prime study time for me. One minute I’m happily reading tweets and looking for a blog plugin for the English club (and yes, working on an English paper), the next minute everything around me went dark.

To be honest, my first thought was “oh, Mum is making a statement about the lateness of the hour.” Then, I realized that she couldn’t have turned off the lamp beside me without me noticing her doing it. Then, my internet connection disappeared.

It’s one thing to lose power during the day. You have to keep your fridge and freezer closed, interior rooms may be a little dim, and the radio will fall silent. Really though, it’s not much of an imposition. Losing your power at night is a whole different ball game.

For one, I can’t see anything. I mean, the ENTIRE neighbourhood has no power- this includes street lamps. Two, I stupidly didn’t charge my phone for the last 48 hours, so I’m down to a sliver of battery and I need my phone to wake me up in the morning. Thankfully, I did charge my iPod so it’s my portable lighting device. As for my laptop- well, I obviously don’t have internet, but I’m on powersaver and typing this right now. I’m good to go for another hour or two.

This whole incident is just bringing home how much we rely on things that most people don’t even have. It’s automatic to walk into a dark room and reach for the light switch. You expect that when you open the fridge, a little light will pop on. When I turn on my iPod, I expect to see my wifi signal. When I plug in my phone, I expect it to charge. When we look outside, we expect to see the porch lights on the neighbour’s houses.

However, right now in Haiti, there are people simply wondering if their house is still standing, if their neighbours are still alive, and if they will be able to find any sort of food. Bodies are being discovered with sickening regularity, each body representing not only a life lost, but also a family destroyed. I’m sure that they aren’t worrying about charging their cellphones, or surfing the web on their iPods. I’m sure that all they want is their family and friends to be alive, and to know where to find food, clothing, and shelter.

My house is still structurally unchanged- even my alarm system is still set thanks to back-up batteries. I have plenty of food and water in my fridge and garage. My family is all around me, safely tucked into their beds. My phone may be low on power, but there are two more in the house all ready to go. Despite my lack of internet, I’m still sitting here typing away on my laptop.

You know, I think that I’m pretty lucky. Because, when you look at your life in the big, world picture, you come to realize that every frustration and setback is nothing when compared with the suffering of others. So instead of mourning my lost study time, I’m going to shut this computer off, get into bed, pray for the people of Haiti, and thank God that all I have to worry about is a low cellphone battery.

It’s really not so bad being powerless.

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A Plea

I know that this isn’t exactly a “book blog”, but I did include the word “everything” in my subheading (see above) so please indulge me.

As many of you know, I’m addicted to a great book cataloging site called LibraryThing (see sidebar for a link!). More than just a place to keep a list of my books (815 and counting…), LibraryThing looks at reading trends, the connections between various authors and books, and stays on the cutting edge of cataloging technology. Last night, they rolled out some amazing new features and updates to the site.

LibraryThing, by necessity, uses Amazon as their primary source of information from book cover images to publication information. Additionally, they integrate dozens of other online book-related databases from Abe books to Barnes and Noble. One of the new features they rolled out includes a way to connect automatically from a book page on LibraryThing to a bookstore near you to see right then if the book you want is in stock at that particular store.

Unfortunately, this feature will only serve to bring more business to chain bookstores because indies don’t, as a rule, keep online records of what they have in stock. LibraryThing doesn’t like being forced to show preference to national bookstores- their goal is not to assist chains in burying indies, but at the same time their users would like to be able to know where they can purchase the books in which they are interested.

Personally, I would love it if we still had indie bookstores in our area. A friend used to own an indie, a children’s bookstore somewhat reminiscent of the one in You’ve Got Mail. She stocked a great selection of books, had fun merchandise related to books and stories, and hosted book related events as well. Then, Barnes and Noble and Zainy-Brainy both set up shop within a block of her store. As cute as her place was, she couldn’t compete with the bargain prices of these two chains, or their high-profile customer draw. Within a very short period of time, her little shop closed its doors forever.

I don’t want this to keep happening to indie bookstores around the country. So, at the request of Tim (founder of LibraryThing and seemingly a really neat and scarily over-educated guy), please help me spread the word to encourage indies to create an online, accessible inventory. Technology drives the world- it’s sad, but very true. The idea of going digital might well be distasteful, but it can’t be as horrible a fate as having to close your doors.

So, if by any chance some indie bookstore owners/employees run across this (or if any of you readers frequent an indie store), please be encouraged to check out the links at the bottom and take appropriate action. Enough customers out there are disillusioned with chain bookstores that they would come to you if they could know that it would be worth their time.

Thanks for your indulgence. I just want to do whatever little thing I can to keep those little indie shops open. Happy Reading!

Links:

Blog post about what’s going on and what to do about it.

Request from Tim to help spread the word.

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